Montagu's Harrier | Circus pygargus

Robert's Raptor Information: Montagu's Harrier

The Montagu's Harrier is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Accipitridae bird family group which includes birds such as Raptors, Old Vultures, Osprey.

The description for the Montagu's Harrier (Latin name Circus pygargus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Circus pygargus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 166 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 504. You will find a picture of the Montagu's Harrier on page 528.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Montagu's Harrier between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Montagu's Harrier is known in Afrikaans as Blouvleivalk (-paddavreter).

The Montagu's Harrier has a height of 47 cms and weighs around 370 gms. The head is coloured grey while the bill is coloured grey. The Circus pygargus has a white coloured throat, yellow legs and a brown coloured back. The eyes are brown.

The male Circus pygargus has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is grey.

Eyes are brown.

Bill is grey.

Legs are yellow.

Throat is white.

Back is brown.

Montagu's Harrier Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

The Circus pygargus attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten.

This bird is a noctunal feeder and is able to forage in the dark because of the enhanced night vision. It also forages at this time because that's when the prey comes out in the open.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The Montagu's Harrier uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

Montagu's Harrier Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Montagu's Harrier is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks.